We might spend time and energy choosing our words, our phrases and our sentences. Carefully consider what we write and how we communicate. Expand our vocabulary to ensure we make the best impression at work and come across as informed and up to date.
However, perhaps we’re missing out on one of the most powerful management words of all. It may only be 3 letters long, bit it packs a mighty punch.
This single syllable helps get to the heart of the discussion, whether it’s an issue, an opportunity or a joint problem-solving activity. Used carefully, it can help probe performance-based issues and ensure greater understanding of business objectives. And it’s great for checking our own line of argument when writing a business case or proposal.
Use it by itself or, like an ingredient in a recipe, as one in a mix of other words.
For example, when used simply on its own like this, ‘Why?’, it can swiftly bring the discussion into sharp focus.
Add a few other words to form a sentence and it is softened and less challenging, but nonetheless powerful, for example as in “Why might that be the case?”
Used frequently in coaching, the word ‘Why’ is also great for helping others see the wider perspective or indeed a different view all together. For example, “Why do you think she would react in that way?”
So, the trick is to take some time to remember and to use the little words. As Kipling once wrote,
I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I know);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.